Disclaimer: The information furnished below is only a general guidance for American citizens, as the interpretation of the Slovak laws and regulations does not fall within the competence of the American Embassy.
A driver’s license issued in the United States is not valid for driving in Slovakia by itself. The driver must also have an International Driving Permit. These can be obtained from AAA offices in the U.S..
Cars legally registered elsewhere may be brought into and driven in Slovakia for up to six months, provided the driver has liability insurance valid in Slovakia and proof of registration and ownership (or proof of the owner’s permission to be driving the car to Slovakia) and provided the driver is not residing in Slovakia.
Requirements for Residents
Americans with a long term residency permit in Slovakia must register their car with the Slovak police office responsible for the district in which they reside. This procedure includes an inspection of the car and verification that its technical parameters meet Slovak requirements. A Customs Deposit must be paid (19% of the car’s value, plus 19% value added tax). This deposit is usually refunded when the car leaves the country. It is important to obtain up-to-date information from Slovak Embassy in Washington D.C., shipping company or customs office ahead of time.
All vehicles registered in Slovakia must be covered by a liability insurance policy that is valid in Slovakia. Collision/comprehensive insurance is optional.
American citizens who are long-term residents in Slovakia and are in possession of a U.S. state driver’s license are obliged to exchange their U.S. driver’s license for a Slovak one. Conditions for the exchange are set by the Law on Road Traffic, as amended in June 2010.
The law obliges all holders of a state driver’s license who have a long-term residency permit in Slovakia to apply for an exchange. This exchange must take place during the sixty-day period starting 185 days after the residency permit was issued. (In other words, you should apply to exchange your driver’s license only after you’ve held a residency permit for about six months.) The application to exchange a driver’s license is filed with the Dopravny Inspektorat at the District Police department in the district where you are resident in Slovakia. The Slovak driver’s license is issued in the EU format and may be used in all EU countries.
Your U.S. state license will be valid for use in Slovakia along with the International Driver’s License for the period prior to obtaining a Slovak driver’s license.
Documents for Driving in Slovakia
U.S. citizens arriving in Slovakia as tourists for stays up to 90 days may use their U.S. state drivers’ licenses (DL) along with an International driving license, which can be obtained by mail from AAA.
U.S. citizens who obtain temporary or permanent residency permits in Slovakia must apply to exchange their state DLs for a Slovak DL of an E.U. type which will be valid for driving in Slovakia as well as in other countries of the EU.
This requirement is set forth in a new Law, No.8/2009 on Road Traffic, paragraph 104. The law came into force on February 1, 2009 and applies to all foreigners with temporary or permanent residency permits.
When to apply
An application for exchange of a U.S. state DL for a Slovak one must be filed within 60 days after the elapsing of 185 days from the granting of your residency permit.
What documents are required
- Valid ID (U.S. passport)
- Valid U.S. state DL
- Copy of the state DL with an official translation into Slovak. An official translation means one from a licensed translator
- DMV driving record with official translation into Slovak and apostile. Your record can usually be obtained from your home state DMV online or by mail on your request. They may charge for this service
Where and how to apply
To apply for exchange of a state DL, contact your local police department. The police will take all your documents, take a face and signature scan, collect a fee, and print the application on behalf of the applicant. One copy of the application along with the original state DL will be returned to you. The application tells you the date when the Slovak DL will be ready for pick up. Your U.S. state DL must be surrendered when you pick up your Slovak license. Your U.S. DL will be returned to the U.S. Embassy for return to the issuing authority, i.e. your U.S. home state.
The fee for issuance of a Slovak DL is 6.5 Euros, paid by duty stamp (kolok). The kolok can be purchased at any post office.
The fee for an official translation of your license and driving record will vary, but a typical charge for one document is $20.00. Some agencies may charge higher fee for expedited service. We recommend that you be certain of the fees before contracting for a translation service.
Most neighboring countries (e.g. Austria) also require American tourists to have an international driver’s permit in addition to a valid driver’s license from their home state. Americans driving without a valid international driving permit may be subject to a hefty fine.
There are occasionally police checks on roads in Slovakia, and all drivers must stop for them. Even if you don’t break any rules, the police have the authority to stop you for a random check. They usually check that your vehicle papers are in order. Occasionally they may check your alcohol level, though this usually only occurs after dark. You should always have the following documents with you when driving and show them to the police upon request:
- a valid Slovak DL, or state DL along with International driver’s licence
- car registration papers (Malý technický preukaz)
- proof of insurance
- personal identification
If the police decide to issue a fine, you have a right to defer payment until later, which, however, may mean additional fees for administrative processing of the fine which may result in a payment of usually double amount of the original fine.
Here are some local driving rules to keep in mind while driving in Slovakia:
- your headlights must be on at all times
- seat belts are required for all passengers (even in back seats)
- children under 12 must sit in the rear of the vehicle
- right turns on red are not permitted
- use of cellular phones while driving is strictly prohibited, except when hands-free set is used
- eating and anything else unconnected to driving is not allowed
- trams, trolleys and buses that are turning always have the right-of-way
- pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right-of-way
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited. The blood alcohol tolerance level is zero percent. Refusal of a blood test on alcohol may result in a fine of up to 869 USD.
Winter tires are compulsory on all roads covered with snow or ice and chains are necessary in certain mountainous areas.
In the Slovak Republic, vehicles travel on the right side of the road. Headlights must be used at all times (day and night). The maximum legal speed on highways is 130 kilometers per hour (78 mph). On smaller roads the maximum speed is 90 kph (54 mph). The limit in towns is 50 kph (31 mph). Safety reflection vests and first aid kits are compulsory equipment for each vehicle.
Drivers must yield the right of way to all vehicles with flashing blue lights (police, ambulances, fire trucks, motorcades). Vehicles with yellow or orange lights usually mean that traffic must slow down. Drivers must always be cautious on side roads where slowly moving vehicles, such as agricultural vehicles, may not be well marked.
Penalties for drivers involved in car accidents involving injury of death are decided by a court of law. Penalties for minor offenses are not generally large, but foreigners are sometimes targeted for additional sums. Anyone suspecting this has occurred should ask for a written receipt and note the name and number of the traffic officer imposing the fine.
Gasoline is readily available. Gas stations typically do not offer repair service; private mechanics must be found. Most gas stations accept credit cards, but mechanics less frequently accept them, so travelers should expect to pay for these services in cash.
A highway user decal/vignette must be purchased on-line at https://www.eznamka.sk/selfcare/home/ for travel on most major roads outside of Bratislava. The decal is valid for the calendar year in which it is purchased, and is available also at certain gas stations and post offices. The cost is 50 EUR for all vehicles up to 3.5 tons. A short-term decal valid for 30 days may be purchased for 14 EUR and for 10 days for 10 EUR.
In case of an accident where the estimated damage exceeds €4,000, you must call the police. As a foreign citizen, the police are obliged to give you a record of the accident with time, place, and all information about the car, plus a detailed description of the damage. If damage is minor, parties can exchange insurance information and solve the accident through those channels.
Disclaimer: These companies are listed solely as a courtesy service. The Embassy does not recommend or take responsibility for any of the companies/services listed here.
Insurance for non-residents is provided by:
Slovenská kancelária poisťovateľov (Slovak insurer’s bureau). To purchase insurance you need to visit the office in person. Take with you your ID, car title (technický preukaz), information about the car and its owner, and, of course, money. For more information visit their website (in English).
American citizens with local residency status can purchase insurance policies with the insurance companies: Allianz, Generali, Ceska Poistovna Slovensko, Kooperativa and Axa.